How to Manage a Consultant

What's the role of the outside consultant(s) in your organization, and how do you manage this role? Have any of these situations happened to you?

  • The firm implies that high-level, seasoned consultants will do the work, but then replaces them with greener staff.

  • As an add-on to this bait-and-switch maneuver, the firm claims expertise in a given area, but uses the client's project to train new consultants.

  • The firm overbills, often by putting extra consultants on-site, overcharging for living expenses or doing work outside the contract scope.

  • The firm disagrees with definitions of key terms, such as "product" and "test," frequently leading to delays while the parties haggle.

Managing a consultant requires a significant amount of hand-holding to prevent them from assuming too much power and responsibility, according Ella Conrad, a CIO in California, who has worked with both Arthur Andersen, LLP and Andersen Consulting.

Earlier this year, Conrad, who works for an Internet utility company, said she fired a consulting firm because the firm attempted to run up billable hours by putting extra people on the docket. Caught unaware and by surprise, she exploded.

Evidently, the practice of bringing in entire project teams without the client's approval is very common. Bruce Webster, who works in the Washington, D.C. PricewaterhouseCoopers office, says consultants typically function as full-time employees, and with the compensation involved, a company should get a firm handle on the situation.

He suggests that a company should review the resumes and interview anyone brought in, and that the contract should list the people who will work on the project, along with a maximum turnover rate.

For the full story click here.

You may like these other stories...

I recently talked with Doug Sleeter about the current state of the small business consulting profession. We talked about how consultants have great opportunities for competitive differentiation by taking full responsibility...
By Shawn Moriarity, Senior Consultant, SageworksRemember dating in high school? You know that guy or girl who you liked but were pretty sure didn't feel the same way about you? It's likely that you doubtless spent...
By Shawn MoriarityYour car's fuel gauge reads empty and you need to find a gas station. Despite BP's new ad campaign or the magazine article you recently read about ExxonMobil's efforts to "go green,"...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.
Aug 26
This webcast will include discussions of recently issued, commonly-applicable Accounting Standards Updates for non-public, non-governmental entities.
Aug 28
Excel spreadsheets are often akin to the American Wild West, where users can input anything they want into any worksheet cell. Excel's Data Validation feature allows you to restrict user inputs to selected choices, but there are many nuances to the feature that often trip users up.
Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.